China denies phone calls to US on trade talks

BEIJING: China’s foreign ministry has reiterated that it had not heard of any recent telephone call between the United States and China on trade, and said it hopes Washington can stop its wrong actions and create conditions for talks.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made the comment at a news briefing yesterday after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there had been contact between the two sides but declined to say with whom.

US President Donald Trump on Monday predicted a trade deal with China, citing what he described as increasing economic pressure on both countries.

Geng clarified twice at a press briefing in response to reporters’ questions: “I am not aware of the phone calls over the weekend, ” and “I haven’t heard of the calls.”

He said China strongly “opposes and rejects” Trump’s latest threats of tariffs, which Geng called “stark trade bullying, ”

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Communist Party newspaper The Global Times, said in a tweet yesterday that top trade negotiators hadn’t spoken by phone in recent days.On Monday, Trump told reporters at the G-7 summit: “China called last night our top trade people and said, ‘Let’s get back to the table, ’ so we will be getting back to the table, .... This is a very positive development for the world.”

He added: “We’ve gotten two calls and very, very good calls. They mean business.”

When quizzed by reporters later about the apparent discrepancy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded: “There were discussions that went back and forth. Let’s leave it at that.”

Trump responded that there were “numerous” calls but added: “I don’t want to talk about calls. We have had calls at the highest level, but I don’t want to talk about that, ” CNBC reported. — Reuters

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